Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 25, 2009

FRIDAY'S MINI-REPORT.... Today's edition of quick hits:

* The G20 is about as efficient as Congress: "A year after the panic that brought the world's financial system to the brink of collapse, the Group of 20 nations will now assume the role of a permanent council on global economic cooperation. But there is still no global regulatory framework to prevent another major market meltdown."

* On a related note, get used the G20 becoming the new standard global forum. President Obama prefers it to the G8, which will focus more on national security than economic issues.

* Georgia struggles with a "once in 500 years flood."

* More evidence for Inhofe and the deniers to ignore: "Climate researchers now predict the planet will warm by 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century even if the world's leaders fulfill their most ambitious climate pledges, a much faster and broader scale of change than forecast just two years ago."

* Remember the public-option fireworks planned for today? They've been delayed until Tuesday.

* The vaccine for H1N1 will be available in less than two weeks. "There will be enough vaccine for every American," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters at the White House.

* After being hospitalized briefly, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is ready to get back to work.

* Zachary Roth has been doing a great job keeping up on the circumstances surrounding the death of Bill Sparkman, the census worker found dead in Kentucky. The local coroner has confirmed that the word "Fed" was, in fact, written on Sparkman's chest.

* The U.S. Chamber of Commerce loses another member over its right-wing approach to climate change. This time, it's New Mexico's largest utility, PNM.

* Water, water everywhere. Yesterday, Earth's Moon. Today, Mars.

* Mark Kleiman recommends calling the public option Medicare Part E. Sounds good to me.

* The chimera of student opposition to SAFRA.

* There were some important flaws in Michael Gerson's column today.

* A.L. takes on the ACORN "stings."

* Yesterday, there was a conference call between Vice President Biden and governors of U.S. states and territories. The only no-show? Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R). Given his love of the stimulus, it's odd that he was the only one who didn't make time.

Anything to add? Consider this an open thread.

Steve Benen 5:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (26)

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Anyone heard anything more about the protester in Pittsburgh snatched off the street via an unmarked car by four guys in fatigues? That looked very scary.

Posted by: Dale on September 25, 2009 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

The G20 is about as efficient as Congress

Yay 'free' markets!

Posted by: Monty on September 25, 2009 at 5:51 PM | PERMALINK

I have no proof, but I am hearing that he was a soldier who went AWOL a few months ago.

Posted by: Realist on September 25, 2009 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

Other findings include the fact that sea level might rise by as much as six feet by 2100 instead of 1.5 feet, as the IPCC had projected, and the Arctic may experience a sea-ice [free] summer by 2030, rather than by the end of the century.

Those are projections, forecasts, model results, or extrapolations, not findings. The next 20 years should provide an excellent test of the theory behind the projections. Already the earth is considerably cooler than the temperatures forecast by IPCC in 1999.

The "fact" that sea level "might" rise by as much as six feet might not be as solid as other "facts", though "might" is hard to deny outright.

The December global warming conference in Copenhagen will accompanied by a parallel conference in Copenhagen of a bunch of AGW sceptics.

Arctic sea ice coverage fluctuated randomly from 1979 to late 2003. From late 2003 to late 2007, arctic sea ice coverage declined somewhat, leading to the forecast that the Arctic would be ice-free in summer as early as 2020. From late 2007 to late 2009, arctic sea ice coverage increased, leading to an extrapolation that eventually summer arctic sea ice would cover Labrador. Depending on which segment of the ice record you choose to make your prediction you can get some dramatically divergent predictions.

In other AGW news, the IPCC ignores all the studies of the residence time of CO2. It isn't just AGW deniers who ignore data. Studies produce residence time estimates of 10-25 years, but the IPCC uses a figure of 100 years in its extrapolations.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on September 25, 2009 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

More evidence for Inhofe and the deniers to ignore...

And more to the point, more evidence of how how vapid their "uncertainty" talking point is. Even if the predictions have a certain amount of error (as all statistical predictions do), that doesn't mean they're wrong in the direction you like (treating uncertainty as meaning you should throw out the findings and assume there's no change.) As with the past several revisions, the findings are at least as likely to be off in the other direction. (And in the case of the IPCC findings, more likely, because the reports only incorporate predictions with >90% confidence.)

Posted by: Redshift on September 25, 2009 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

more global climate modeling results here.

I think that their detrended residuals display no warming over the past 10 years. But I would like to repeat that the real tests will all occur in the upcoming decade as the models are all revised and much new data become available.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on September 25, 2009 at 6:19 PM | PERMALINK

Sparkman was touching the ground, not hanging, when found.

Whatever does that mean?

Posted by: cld on September 25, 2009 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

Not to wish ill upon the innocents, but a little public groveling for federal aid by prominent right wing Georgia politicians (cameras rolling, of course) would be a wonderful site

Posted by: JM2 on September 25, 2009 at 6:51 PM | PERMALINK

I am not a GW denier, but (as alluded above) a prediction is not evidence of the thing being predicted.

Posted by: elbrucce on September 25, 2009 at 6:56 PM | PERMALINK

So what's with this issue in the health care "bill" that if you don't buy insurance the penalty could be a year in jail??


Here's the gist of it...

...Joint Committee on Taxation Chief of Staff Tom Barthold confirming the penalty for failing to pay the up to $1,900 fee for not buying health insurance.

Violators could be charged with a misdemeanor and could face up to a year in jail or a $25,000 penalty, Barthold wrote on JCT letterhead.

What's the spin on this?

Posted by: pencarrow on September 25, 2009 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

Would I get health care in jail?

Posted by: anonymous on September 25, 2009 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Would I get health care in jail?

Yes. If you need an urgent, lifesaving procedure that you have no access to, get yourself an "overwhelming urge to expose yourself" and go to a post office and flash an employee. That is a federal misdemeanor. You will be arrested and taken into custody. You make your medical condition known and you will do your time in a Federal Bureau of Prisons hospital.

Posted by: Lurking Legal Eagle on September 25, 2009 at 7:26 PM | PERMALINK

Sparkman was touching the ground, not hanging, when found.
Whatever does that mean? -- cld, @18:29

I take it to mean that, because his feet were touching the ground, there was not enough gravity pull to have closed the noose tightly enough to kill. So, the suggestion is that, maybe, he was playing some kinky, auto-erotic games which misfired.

Except that, a) the rope might have stretched just enough for his feet to touch the ground (if he had been hanged low enough) and, b) the "fed" scrawl has now been confirmed and I've yet to hear about people kinky enough to get off on the idea of being strangled for being a fed (or by feds -- take your pick of fantasies)... Me, based on that photo of him which had been displayed at TPM, I'd have had him pegged for a straightforward "likes little boys" guy :)

Posted by: exlibra on September 25, 2009 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

About this "Praise Dear Leader" video of the school kids singing about Obama:
1. As Leslie Marshall pointed out in a rather bitter venting against an anti-abortion caller last (?) night on WWKB AM 1520 "the voice of the new majority", the unwitting minor kids had their images all over the place and that may break some rules (maybe informal traditions and not legal like the ACORN taping, but still.)
2. It is not like NK etc - because in a totalitarian country, the government tells the school to do it, not the teacher's own idea (do we know just who was behind it?)

Posted by: Neil B ♪ on September 25, 2009 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

elbrucce beat me to it. At best, the UNEP forecast is an analysis of other evidence, but is not evidence itself. That doesn't make it any less likely to be ignored, though.

Posted by: Grumpy on September 25, 2009 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

"But I would like to repeat that the real tests will all occur in the upcoming decade as the models are all revised and much new data become available."

True, but the 'real' tests are on a real planet. If the test produce disasterous results, we don't get to run the experiment again. We just don't have another planet to try it on. Currently, we are conducting the largest experiment ever attempted. We are changing the composition of the earth's atmosphere based on the theory that none of the complex chemical reactions will be affected by changes in concentration (a rather dubious theory, given our knowledge on chemistry). If our theory is wrong, we're screwed. We can't really undo the changes.

Posted by: fostert on September 25, 2009 at 10:00 PM | PERMALINK

My first aptronym sightem!

Aptronym - A name aptly suited to its owner. (e.g. Margaret Court the tennis player, Lord Brain the neurologist, Thomas Crapper the manufacturer of Victorian toilets.)

From TPM's Birthermercial post:

One of the men behind the infomercial is attorney Gary Kreep, executive director of the Ramona, CA-based Birther group United States Justice Foundation.

Posted by: koreyel on September 25, 2009 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

Oil oil everywhere...

NYT: Oil Industry Sets a Brisk Pace of New Discoveries

The gist:

It is normal for companies to discover billions of barrels of new oil every year, but this year’s pace is unusually brisk. New oil discoveries have totaled about 10 billion barrels in the first half of the year ... If discoveries continue at that pace through year-end, they are likely to reach the highest level since 2000.

So is Palin right? Will drill baby drill push off peak oil into the distant future? Not really:

Although they are substantial, the new finds do not match the giant fields discovered in the 1970s, like Alaska’s Prudhoe Bay, Ekofisk in the North Sea, or Cantarell in Mexico. They are also dwarfed by the last enormous discovery, the Kashagan field in the Caspian Sea, discovered in 2000 and estimated to hold over 20 billion barrels of oil.

Keep in mind the world drinks 30 billion barrels of oil a year.
But still they keep finding more and more.
It makes you wonder how the earth could be so fecund in making oil:

Meanwhile, in the Gulf of Mexico, BP’s discovery proves that the area remains one of the most promising oil regions in the United States. BP has estimated that the Tiber field holds four billion to six billion barrels of oil and gas, which would be enough, in theory, to meet domestic consumption for more than a year.

Which leads to this question: How much oil is there in the crust of the earth? We know basically how old the earth is and how long it has been plowing flora and fauna underground for conversion into oil. Surely we can rough out an answer. I'll let the geophysical mathematicians crunch out the quantitative answer. But I've got the qualitative answer for you:

There is enough oil in the earth's crust, that if you were to burn it all, you could make the south and north poles tropical forests again.

And that's where this planet is headed.
You can bet on it. As surely as you can bet on this fact: Every barrel that can be, will certainly be, dug out of the ground and burnt in a New York minute of geological time.

That is your children's future.
And nothing can be done to stop the melting...

Posted by: koreyel on September 25, 2009 at 11:07 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if any Muslims or ultra-orthodox Jews/Christians will refuse to be vaccinated against the H1N1 virus?

I mean, it is called Swine Flu, so one would think that any member of a religion that has a punishable-by-hell prohibition against ingesting anything involving Pork might have a slight problem with getting the H1N1 vaccination.

Posted by: wizard2000 on September 25, 2009 at 11:40 PM | PERMALINK

Wasn't Gov. Sonny Perdue praying for rain in Georgia last year because of the 100 year drought?

I guess God has a sense of humor.

Posted by: Vic on September 26, 2009 at 1:02 AM | PERMALINK

The NYT had more on the hanging. It seem suicide is now out. From the person who first found the body...

''The only thing he had on was a pair of socks,'' Weaver said. ''And they had duct-taped his hands, his wrists. He had duct tape over his eyes, and they gagged him with a red rag or something.''
''And they even had duct tape around his neck,'' Weaver said. ''And they had like his identification tag on his neck. They had it duct-taped to the side of his neck, on the right side, almost on his right shoulder.''

Posted by: Jasper on September 26, 2009 at 1:35 AM | PERMALINK

There are some important flaws in Michael Gerson.

Posted by: rbe1 on September 26, 2009 at 6:39 AM | PERMALINK

-There's 'plenty of oil' in various spots around the globe; the recent South American find in under 21,000 feet of ocean.

-it's the accessability that's the problem. And will contribute to the solution.

The high cost of recovery will raise the price. And the price of oil is the benchmark upon which the cost of solar/wind/tides/algae is based.

Posted by: DAY on September 26, 2009 at 6:45 AM | PERMALINK

"The high cost of recovery will raise the price. And the price of oil is the benchmark upon which the cost of solar/wind/tides/algae is based"

This is true. What is also true is the fact that while these and other alternative sources are being developed to reach the requisite replacement energy production levels, the economies of the world will be heavily strained, and given the current global economic climate, it's going to be quite a balancing act, don't you think ?

Posted by: rbe1 on September 26, 2009 at 7:05 AM | PERMALINK

Don't forget that arctic sea ice coverage fluctuations are harder to predict now due to sea ice _thinning_ which is the real concern. It makes annual fluctuation amplitudes larger and exposes more water faster, dramatically altering albedo, algae photosynthesis and habitat.

Posted by: danz on September 26, 2009 at 7:28 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Pharma940 on May 6, 2010 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK
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